The courtship between the Washington Redskins and Landon Collins this offseason had to do with more than just football. It carried added emotions stemming from Collins’s admiration for the late Sean Taylor.
The former Redskins star safety was Collins’s hero growing up, and Collins broke into tears when owner Daniel Snyder gifted him with a signed, game-worn Taylor jersey after joining the team.
Collins made it clear during his introductory news conference that he was interested in wearing Taylor’s No. 21 jersey but would first talk about it with the organization and Taylor’s family before any decision was made. The Redskins finally revealed the answer Tuesday night, when the team’s website posted a picture of the safety in a No. 20 jersey, alongside newly acquired quarterback Case Keenum in jersey No. 8.
The No. 21 worn by Taylor isn’t officially retired, but it hasn’t been taken by a player since Taylor was shot to death in his home in 2007.
Collins, who wore No. 21 during his four seasons with the New York Giants, said at his news conference that he understood wearing the number in Washington would bring certain expectations of performance and leadership.
“I love that burden,” Collins, a three-time Pro Bowl honoree, said. “I love that passion. I love that on my shoulders. I definitely could carry that.”
Collins had said he “literally broke down” in tears upon learning he’d be joining the Redskins, the team his idol Taylor played for. He is expected to play a key role on defense after signing a six-year, $84 million contract.
More Redskins coverage: